Week 16 NFL Picks, Odds, and Best Bets: Detroit Lions vs Carolina Panthers

When the Detroit Lions (7-7) take on the Carolina Panthers (5-9) at 1 p.m. ET on FOX on Saturday, the outcome may determine home field advantage in the NFC playoffs. After losing by four points at home to Miami on October 30, the Lions have gone 6-1 SU and 7-0 ATS. Continue reading for a breakdown of the Lions’ matchup with the Panthers.

Carolina (5-9), while having won two of its past three, has yet to defeat a club with a winning record this year. The Panthers are currently tied for second place in the NFC South with two other teams, each one game behind Tampa Bay. Next week, the Panthers will travel to Tampa to take on the Buccaneers.

Detroit vs Carolina Odds

Detroit Lions-2.5 (-115)-152Over 43.5 (-110)
Carolina Panthers+2.5 (-105)-128Under 43.5 (-110)

In this matchup between two teams that play only infrequently, Detroit is a 2.5-point favorite on the road against Carolina. Only three games have been played between the two teams since 2014, and each time Carolina has won straight up and against the spread. In their most recent matchup on November 22, 2020, the Panthers defeated the Lions 20-0.

Since Steve Wilks took over as head coach on Oct. 11 after Matt Rhule was fired, Carolina is 4-6 SU and 6-3 ATS. As underdogs, the Panthers have a 5-5 record straight up and a 7-3 record against the spread. As an OKBET Betting Picks and Predictions odds-on favorite, the Lions are 2-1 straight up and against the spread.

Detroit on a Big-Time Roll

You may recall when the Lions were 1-6, all-purpose running back D’Andre Swift was dealing with a slew of ailments, and the team looked doomed to repeat last year’s 3-13-1 record under new head coach Dan Campbell. Wait a minute! That was the prologue to the biggest comeback story in the NFL, and it happened against the background of the league’s toughest schedule through 15 weeks, according to some metrics.


With quarterback Jared Goff leading the way and the defense finding its footing, the Lions have won six of their past seven games and are on the edge of a wild card berth thanks to a schedule that is the second-easiest in the league during the final three weeks. The Lions and Seahawks are tied for second place in the NFC, each a half game behind Washington (7-6-1).

Goff has a completion percentage of 65%, has picked off just 7 passes, and is on pace for his first 4,300-yard passing season since 2019. Jamal Williams has scored 14 running touchdowns, which is first in the NFL, and the offensive line has allowed zero sacks in the first 10 quarters.

After seven games, Detroit’s defense has allowed the fewest points per game in the league at 19.9, besting all other teams in the league. The Lions’ sole setback in the last month came on November 24th, a 28-25 defeat to Buffalo. All seven of the Lions’ losses have come at the hands of clubs with winning records.

Carolina’s Makes a Charge

A defense that has not allowed more than two touchdowns in any of the previous five games and has six takeaways has been a major factor in three wins in a row for the Panthers. The Panthers have struggled all year long at quarterback, with three different players starting at least three games. After Baker Mayfield was fired after six starts, Sam Darnold took over as the starting quarterback. In five starts, P.J. Walker had a record of 2-3.

Darnold is a game manager (509 yards passing, 3 TDs, 0 INTs) and D’Onta Foreman is the starting running back after the team traded Christian McCaffrey to the 49ers after only six games. Since taking over as a starter in Week 7, Foreman has four games with at least 100 yards. The Panthers are 24th in scoring and 30th in overall offense, and they need on players like defensive end Brian Burns (10.5 sacks) to keep them in OKBET games.

Injury Report

DeShon Elliott, a starting safety for the Lions, and Kayode Awosika, a starting guard, are both out with injuries. Although he hasn’t practiced this week, Pro Bowl center Frank Ragnow (foot) is still scheduled to participate. C.J. Henderson, the Panthers’ starting cornerback, will play after exiting last week’s game against the Steelers early due to an ankle injury.

Detroit Lions vs Carolina Panthers Prediction

The win is essential for both clubs if they want to keep their postseason hopes alive, but Detroit has the better chance of doing so. After a rough first half of the season, the Lions have won seven straight games against the spread (ATS), have outstanding skill position players, and are playing at peak efficiency on defense. Go against the grain if it pleases you, but Detroit is the team to play.